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University of Arkansas Professor Arrested After Hiding Ties to Chinese Government

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Posted: May 12, 2020 2:15 PM
University of Arkansas Professor Arrested After Hiding Ties to Chinese Government

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

A University of Arkansas professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang was charged with wire fraud on Monday, the Department of Justice said, after he failed to reveal his ties to the Chinese government and Chinese companies when he applied for federal grant money.

“These materially false representations to NASA and the University of Arkansas resulted in numerous wires to be sent and received that facilitated Ang’s scheme to defraud,” the DOJ statement said.

He worked for and received funding from Chinese companies and from the Thousand Talents program, which awards grants to scientists to encourage relationships with the Chinese government, and he warned an associate to keep his affiliation with the program quiet, court papers said.

He kept the financial arrangements secret, allowing him to secure other grants from American government agencies, including NASA, that the Chinese funding made him ineligible for, according to court documents. (NYT)

Ang warned a researcher from a Chinese university who wished to travel to the University of Arkansas to keep his association with the Thousand Talents program secret.

“Not many people here know I am one of them but if this leaks out, my job here will be in deep troubles,” he wrote, before warning the researcher to delete the email after reading it.

Mr. Ang also worked to obtain more than $5 million in grants from the U.S. government over the past seven years, according to a court filing. But he did not tell the University of Arkansas that he did work for Chinese universities and electronics technology companies, in violation of school policy.

Mr. Ang’s work also involved power grid security research, said Todd Shields, a dean at Arkansas. He said the university was asked a few months ago to give the federal government information about faculty travel to China but did not know which agency made the request. (NYT)

Ang faces up to 20 years in prison.

The DOJ has a similar case against Dr. Xiao-Jiang Li, a former Emory University professor who was convicted and sentenced for filing a false tax return. He failed to disclose income he made while working overseas at Chinese universities.

“The Department of Justice remains vigilant over programs such as the Thousand Talents Program that recruits professors and researchers to work for China,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.

"As this case demonstrates, the FBI is committed to working with our partners to prevent individuals from utilizing the Chinese Government’s talent plan programs to commit fraud against the United States government and our universities," added Acting Assistant Director Robert R. Wells of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.